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Archive for December, 2011

Book Recommendations: The 2011 Favorites Lists

As 2011 winds down, you may have noticed top 10 book lists on some of your favorite blogs. If you’re working on a reading plan for 2012, here are some of the Crossway books recommended from our authors and blog reviewers (be sure to check out the other books they recommend as well)!:

Any other books you’d strongly recommend to our readers?

December 16, 2011 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 10:39 am | (5) Comments »

An Indirect Approach to Evangelism

Last week we posted on the challenge of sharing the gospel during the holiday season. (Don’t forget to download your free copy of Bringing the Gospel Home by Randy Newman)!

Jerram Barrs offers additional insight that may be helpful as you interact with close friends and family:

Confronting people head-on with the gospel can raise hackles. Depending on the person and their situation, theological matters have the potential to create antagonism in someone’s heart and build barriers. This is not the response we hope to generate with our evangelistic efforts.

Jesus was aware of this possibility and did not always confront people head-on. When confronted with a question from a teacher of the law, Jesus knew that the man’s heart was not ready to hear the truth. Instead, he responded to him by asking questions and telling him the story of the Good Samaritan. The story was intended to to exercise the scholar’s imagination, will, emotions, and mind:

  • “Why did he use a Samaritan as his example?
  • Am I like the priest and Levite in that story?
  • Have I ever helped a stranger in need?
  • Have I ever loved anyone to the same degree that I love myself?
  • Will my knowledge of the law be sufficient for me to inherit eternal life?
  • Can I bring myself to go back to Jesus, humble myself before him, and ask him different questions?

Questions and stories work together like this, long after they are heard, because they engage a person so fully. Most people that we encounter have mechanisms in place to conceal from themselves the truth about what is really going on in the deep recesses of their being. The right questions or the right story can get a person thinking about their motives and the state of their heart in a way that direct facts may not.

Adapted from Learning Evangelism from Jesus by Jerram Barrs

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This Christmas Don’t Forget Free ESV E-Books!

One of our primary goals at Crossway is to make the Bible as widely available as possible in all media forms, including e-books. With more and more people trying e-books these days, there’s been an explosion of e-reader devices of all shapes and sizes, for every budget. And within a week or so many will find their way under Christmas trees. You might be giving or receiving one yourself.

If you unwrap an e-reader this year, one of the first things you’ll want to do is start loading it with great content. Did you know the ESV Classic Reference Bible is available for free in every major e-book format?

Download the ESV Bible in the available formats from Crossway’s website, or purchase directly from your e-reader device.* Kindle users can also download the free ESV Bible or the ESV Study Bible ($9.99) directly from Amazon.com.

Whether you receive an e-reader for the first time this Christmas, or have been using one for a while, make sure you load it with the free ESV Bible.

Merry Christmas!

*Note—at the time of this post, due to a glitch in the Nook bookstore, the Nook edition of the ESV Bible was not available for free. Until the issue is resolved, we recommend downloading the ePub file from the Crossway website and installing it on your Nook reader.

*UPDATE: The Nook bookstore has fixed the glitch. The ESV Bible is now available for free.

December 15, 2011 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Andrew Tebbe @ 2:00 pm | (11) Comments »

From Success To Significance?: A Vocational Paradigm

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.

Guest Post by Tom Nelson, author of Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work

I don’t know if it is the stage of life I now indwell or the company I keep these days, but something seems afoot among my fellow baby boomers. Perhaps as the generation ahead of us is passing on with increasing frequency, our own mortality is confronting us more and more with each passing day. In any case, much has been made to those of us who are entering the middle years about moving from lives of success to lives of significance.

This beckoning to more fully embrace lives of significance touches us deeply as image bearers of the one true God. Often this call to significance is translated as leaving the for profit world of business to invest our time, talent and treasure in a non-profit faith based enterprise.

I do not doubt that God’s vocational calling can and does at times lead us from one work sector to another, but does the well intentioned clarion call beckoning us from success to significance bear up under the thoughtful examination of Holy Scripture?

With all due respect for my “half time” friends, I don’t believe a robust theology of vocation, carefully mined from the biblical narrative, supports the “half time” paradigm.

  • First: The Genesis creation account centers the definition of work not in terms of financial remuneration or an economic model, but rather to our contribution toward the flourishing of the common good and the cultivation of God’s good world.
  • Second: The Apostle Paul writing to New Testament churches emphasizes being faithfully present wherever we are providentially placed in the work place. Writing to the local church at Colossae, Paul avoids any kind of dichotomous thinking about either a successful or significant vocation. Instead he presents God-honoring work indwelling God-honoring motive in the broadest of categories of worshiping God. Paul puts it this way, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” Paul wants us to grasp that our work itself has more than instrumental value; our work whatever it is has great intrinsic value as an act of God-honoring worship. From Paul’s perspective we are given a great deal of freedom in our vocational endeavors as long as we direct them to the glory of God and the advancement of the common good.
  • Third: The matter of wise stewardship of the work skills we have attained over the years may very well be best used and further developed in the same for profit work sector. As one who has worked primarily in the non-profit world, I can speak from experience that while some “half-timers” find the transition to the non-profit world a good fit, but many do not. I don’t doubt that some non-profit enterprises have found “half-timer” contributions helpful, yet many I encounter have also experienced great difficulty. While both for profit and non-profit sectors can learn from each other, they each have unique dynamics that are vastly different. Many “half-timers” bring to the non for profit sector needed skills in organizational efficiency and pragmatic management, but what they often lack is the essential level of theological reflection needed to guide the organization in accomplishing its multiple bottom line mission.

So before we jump too quickly on the “half time” bandwagon, let’s both search our souls as well as the Holy Scriptures. Whether our lives have been marked by success, modest achievement or failure, our vocations are filled with great significance as we worship God in and through them.

Perhaps it is time we replaced a success to significance paradigm with a vocational paradigm of faithful presence. Where ver God has providentially placed you, whether that is in the profit sector or non-profit sector, be fully present for the Glory of God and the furtherance of Christ’s Gospel mission in the world.

Tom Nelson (DMin, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) has served as senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, Kansas, for more than twenty years. He is the author of Work Matters, Five Smooth Stones, and Ekklesia as well as a member of The Gospel Coalition.

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| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Work / Vocation | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

Video: “Alpha and Omega” by James MacMillan

Alpha and Omega by James MacMillan is a six-minute sacred choral piece set to the ESV text of Revelation 21:1-6a. “It is a beautiful passage…from the book of the apocalypse,” explains MacMillan. “It basically addresses Christ as the beginning and the end of everything.” MacMillan masterfully handles the ambiguities of a both apocalyptic and celebratory passage. “It is my principle priority in being a composer…to allow extremes to confront each other,” MacMillan says. “For the joyful and the terrifying to co-habit the same time-space.”

Alpha and Omega was commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria and sponsored by Crossway and the University of Chicago. The vision for the work originated with Dr. Lane Dennis, President and Publisher at Crossway, whose idea it was to partner with Soli Deo Gloria to commission a great contemporary musical work, in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible.

On Friday December 16th, The Crossing @ Christmas will offer the East Coast premiere of Alpha and Omega by James MacMillan, in concert at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia, PA. The Crossing is a choir in Philadelphia led by Donald Nally, conductor and chorus master. The piece will air on 90 public radio stations throughout December and will be available for commercial release in October 2012.

Tune in below to hear James MacMillan discuss the project:

December 14, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,The Arts,The Christian Life,Video | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 2:37 pm | 0 Comments »